Cameras

Sony Alpha A6500 Review

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The Alpha A6500 is Sony’s flagship APS-C mirrorless camera, and boy does it pack a lot of techs.

Sony left it just six months before updating the Alpha A6300 with The a6500, but while this might sound like a premature update, the Alpha 6500 gains a number of key features, including in-body image stabilization to further blur the line between Sony’s APS-C lineup and its Alpha 7 full-frame range of mirrorless cameras. Sony has also equipped its new camera with a greatly enhanced buffer to make it a tempting proposition for shooting action, while there’s also the welcome addition of a touchscreen interface. The inclusion of these new features makes the A6500 one of the most fully-featured crop-sensor digital cameras on the market right now.

Features

  • APS-C CMOS sensor, 24.2MP
  • 3.0-inch, vari-angle touchscreen, 921,000 dots
  • 4K video capture

While the Sony A6500 sticks with the Alpha 6300’s 24.2MP APS-C sensor and a 4D focus system (with 425 phase-detect AF points), there are welcome improvements elsewhere. It’s notably the first Sony APS-C camera to come with 5-axis in-body image stabilization, just as we’ve seen with Sony’s second-generation Alpha 7 series of cameras like the Alpha A7R II. And the great news is that this not only works with Sony’s non-stabilized optics but can be used in conjunction with Sony’s OSS stabilized lenses.

Sony has also overhauled the buffer of the A6500, delivering a considerable boost in performance that sees the camera capable of capturing 307 full-size JPEG files or 107 raws, all at a quick 11fps burst rate – quite an improvement from the The6300’s 44 JPEG and 22 raw limits. That’s still a far cry from the Nikon D500’s bottomless 200-raw buffer, but it beats out most cameras – including absolutely crushing the Canon EOS 7D Mark II’s buffer capacity of 31 natural files. A faster large-scale integration (LSI) chip and picture processing algorithm improves texture reproduction while reducing noise. With this new chipset and code, the A6500 specifically produces less noise in the mid-to-high portions of the camera’s ISO100-25,600 (expandable up to ISO51,200) sensitivity range.

The Alpha 6500 also gains a touchscreen (though the resolution remains at the same 921k-dots), allowing you to change your focus point on the fly, which can be really useful when shooting video.

Likewise, there’s exactly the same XGA OLED Tru-Finder, with a 2.36-million dots resolution and 120hz maximum refresh rate, as on the A6300, although the eyecup is a little softer.

While the Sony Alpha A6500 gains no additional video capabilities over its predecessor, it basically comes with everything the videographer could want.

You have 4K (3840 x 2160) at 25p and 30p recording in a Super 35mm format. In this mode, the camera uses its entire sensor to capture 6K source to avoid cropping. The oversampled video data is then crunched down to a final 4K output with enhanced depth and detail.

Full HD recording is also available if you want to deal with smaller files, and the option to go up to 120p means you can capture slow-motion video.

Video professionals will also be glad to hear that the Sony A6500 samples 4K footage at 4.2.0 internally and 4.2.2 externally over HDMI. Plus it has all the flat picture profiles you would want for grading footage later.

Despite the wealth of video features, we’re disappointed to see that, as on the A6300, there’s no headphone jack on this camera. In order to monitor your audio, you’ll need to keep a close eye on levels on-screen or plugin an external keep track of with an audio-out.

Performance

  • 11fps burst shooting
  • 107 shot raw file buffer
  • 350-shot battery life

As we’ve mentioned, the Sony A6500 is a veritable speed demon, thanks to processing speeds being comprehensively boosted over the A6300.

The A6500 has been treated to the Alpha A99 II’s potent processing engine. This gives the A6500 a burst shooting buffer of up to 307 JPEGs when shooting at 8fps, giving you 35 seconds of firepower. Alternatively, at 11fps the camera can capture 200 JPEGs in a single bout or 107 raws.

The A6500’s multi-zone metering system didn’t get thrown by tricky lighting either, metering perfectly on the dot without overexposure or underexposure. As with most Sony cameras we’ve tested recently, the A6500’s auto white balance can be a little sticky and doesn’t change instantaneously, although it does adapt faster than previous models. There are about a dozen whitened balance modes, including three custom settings which you can meticulously tweak to the right colour temperature and tint.

Battery life on the Sony A6500 is average at best. Although it’s rated for 350 shots, we only got through about half an evening of shooting images and a few minutes of 4K footage. You’ll need to pick up a few spare batteries, especially if you plan to shoot Ultra HD movies, which drains the camera at a rate of 1% per minute of video.

Check Out: Best Sony Alpha a6500 Lenses 

Verdict

We might be able to count the Sony A6500’s five new features on one hand, but they add up to a much faster and robust camera than was The a6300. Of course, it would’ve been nice if these features had debuted in the a6300; however, if you’ve already been waiting for an APS-C Sony with nearly the same capabilities as the company’s full-frame A7 Mark II, this is it.

Despite our reservations about the fiddly controls and dense menu system, no other camera does as much as the Sony A6500 does, and while being more affordable to boot. It keeps up surprisingly well with many higher-end DSLRs and mirrorless cameras for sports – and if you’re looking to get serious with video, you won’t find a much better option.

Check Sony a6500 Price 

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